Wilton House to Wilton Court, by architectural historian Dr Richard K Morris FSA, is a new publication about one of Kenilworth’s best-known Victorian buildings, Wilton House in Southbank Road. The road was created in 1873-74 by an unlikely property developer, the Revd Joseph H Barker, the chaplain of Hereford City Gaol, who had inherited all the land on which the road and its houses now stand. He had hoped to cash in on the proximity of the railway and the popularity of nearby Leamington Spa to build villas to rent or sell to a wealthy Victorian clientele. Only a handful of villas were erected in the 1870s, designed by his son, E H Lingen Barker, and the large detached villa, Wilton House, was a late-comer.
Wilton House was built in 1896-97 for Arthur Ledbrook, a successful Warwick solicitor, probably to a design by the local architect, Francis Trepess. In 1919 it was purchased by Arthur Street, whose family fortune came from the local tanning industry, then in 1946 it was sold to the Council. This souvenir booklet (32pp) charts the house’s history from a substantial gentleman’s residence, through its use for sixty-five years as Kenilworth’s Council House, to its demolition in 2012 for redevelopment of the site as private retirement apartments, called Wilton Court. The booklet is illustrated with numerous colour photographs, plans, drawings and deeds, and in particular the author reconstructs the layout and changing function of the rooms during its time as a late Victorian and Edwardian residence.
The booklet is published privately and available from the author, price £6 including p&p. All profits from the book go to the Harry Sunley Memorial Fund to refurbish the medieval Tantara Gatehouse of Kenilworth’s former abbey and open it to the public. Harry Sunley was the Town Council Clerk for many years, and a long-serving Chairman of Kenilworth History and Archaeology Society.
To order a book or for more details, contact:
Dr Richard K Morris, Elgin House, 36 Southbank Road, Kenilworth CV8 1LA
Tel: 01926 856624
Cheques should be made payable to ‘Harry Sunley Memorial Fund’